“A gentle answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1). Apparently this works not only for humans, but for cats too.
When I thought about diffusing anger, my first answer was gentleness, but Paul gives some other ideas: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32). Did you see his strategy? Kindness and forgiveness. Conversely, that means when anger is present, there are unkindness and unforgiveness going on. How true! When I’ve been angry, I haven’t been very forgiving. You tend to look for the worst in someone – not the best.
One thing that’s helped with my anger (and I’ve only learnt this the last few years) has been first to think how my action’s going to affect other people. If I leap up in the middle of a meeting and storm out, for example, someone will probably follow to see if I’m all right, causing them to miss the meeting too. I suppose the reason this thinking helps is that instead of being angry, there I am doing the opposite – being kind.
You must have your own anger stories. Maybe you acted unwisely, like I have in the past, or maybe you handled it well. Perhaps you’ve been hurt by someone else’s bad reaction. Perhaps kindness and forgiveness really are the way to go.
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“When Jesus saw Mary crying and the Jews who came with her also crying, He was upset and was deeply troubled” (John 11:33).
On day 13, I’ve got Kristen Strong to thank for this one:
Jesus’ annoyance at sickness.
In her book “Girl Meets Change”, Kristen writes about Lazarus – Jesus’ friend who died, and four days later, Jesus raised him from the dead. Jesus went to the town where Lazarus’ two sisters, Martha and Mary, lived. When He saw Mary and the Jews with her crying, He was deeply troubled. Kristen says the translation of that Greek word ‘Trouble’ would be something akin to a bull snorting. Having grown up in a family of dairy farmers, she tells us: “A snorting bull is an angry bull.”
Jesus is angry at sickness and death. When you think about it, neither sickness nor death were in the garden of Eden before sin came into the world. They’re not God’s ideal, so when you suffer, instead of blaming God, you can picture Him feeling the annoyance you feel, and think of Jesus praying for you throughout.
“Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and He is sitting in the place of honour at God’s right hand, pleading for us” (Romans 8:34).
It was lovely to be back in church today, after a week off last Sunday when the clocks went forward and my memory let me down.
Our pastor talked about anger and how as Christians, we don’t have an excuse. We can’t blame what we were born into because when we’re born again, the Holy Spirit lives in us and His fruit (E.G. self-control) is available to us. It’s great to have a pastor who’s courageous enough to preach truth and give us these reminders.
I can think of a time when something I’ve done in anger has led to people saying hurtful things about me, but what made them say those things? What gave them that impression? To my shame, it was the way I acted, I realised as the life in these words hit home: “If you cannot control your anger, you are as helpless as a city without walls, open to attack” (Proverbs 25:28).
If they hit home for you too, why not ask God for His forgiveness and His help in the future?